PNB fraud case: Choksi granted bail for treatment in Antigua
The high court of justice in Dominica on Monday granted interim bail to fugitive Indian businessman Mehul Choksi and allowed him to travel to Antigua and Barbuda “strictly for medical treatment”, people familiar with the development said.
Choksi will have to return to Dominica, where he is facing illegal entry charges, once he is fit to travel, the court ruled.
Also Read | ‘Strictly for treatment’: Mehul Choksi gets interim bail, can travel to Antigua
It asked Choksi to deposit Eastern Caribbean dollars 10,000 ( ₹275,000) as surety for the bail and return to the island after his treatment. He is likely to be flown in an air ambulance to Antigua on Wednesday after completing legal formalities, the people cited above said.
His legal team approached the Dominica high court last week seeking relief on the ground that his health was deteriorating and he needed urgent medical attention.
The 62-year-old businessman, wanted in India in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, has been in the custody of Dominican authorities for illegally entering the island on May 24 and faces charges on this count. He was admitted to the Dominica-China Friendship hospital soon after and has been under treatment since May 31.
His legal team sought permission for him to travel to Antigua on the grounds that he has a heart condition, is diabetic, has hypertension, and a clot in the brain.
Choksi also submitted a medical certificate of Princess Margaret Hospital in Dominica in support of travel to Antigua, which said he would be examined by a private physician for a neurological assessment and a neurosurgeon from the US will also assist the physician.
“Dominica courts finally upheld the rule of law and rights of a human to be treated in the medical facilities of his choice. And all attempts by various agencies did not bear fruit...,” said Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal.
There was no formal response from New Delhi to Monday’s development. Indian government officials, however, have termed Choksi’s claim of poor medical health as a “drama” to stay away from prison in Dominica.
As reported by HT, Choksi approached the high court last week to seek a judicial review of the illegal entry case against him alleging that he didn’t leave Antigua and Barbuda on his own but was brought to Dominica as part of “collusion” between governments, an allegation that has been rejected.
Choksi, who fled India in January 2018 and has been living in Antigua, went missing from the country on May 23. He turned up on a Dominican beach about 200km away and was arrested, prompting the Indian government to seek his deportation as he was a prohibited immigrant in the country in contrast to Antigua, where he enjoys constitutional and legal protection by virtue of being a citizen.
In Antigua, he, however, faces proceedings to extradite him to India as well as to revoke his citizenship. Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne has previously said that his country will not take Choksi back and that he should be sent directly to India.